OUR SYDNEY LETTER
<•* CRACKING HARDY." "I om delighted with tho success of the wheat proclamation." So Mr D. R. Hall, the Attorney-General and Acting Premier, is reported to have eaid. In addition to tho quantity seized in tpansit, thd farmers are- bringing in their wheat very well, ho tells us. That, of course, means some of the farmers. What percentage of the whole there, is no means of estimating. Moreover, the millers are sending in big cheques to get the. grain. Hut why should they not? They are getting it at 5s 6d a bushel, and their competitors in Melbourne are, paying- bs i)d. There- will be lota of loopholes for petting a correspondingly increased pree for some, at any rate, of tho flour that is bought with the cheap wheat. One can understand tho millers jubilating. Hut Mr Hall's rejoicing reminds one of nothing quite to much as of tho frant'c enthusiasm in Berlin over tho German " victories" announced by the Kaiser.' Quite in accord with sober fact, however, is the statement that the Wheat Board are sitting all day to grapple with tho difficulties that have aJready risen. And the difficulties that have .arisen aro trivial in comparison with those which have yet to be faced. The course of commerce, under normal conditions, is liko a smoothly-llowmg stream. But interpose an obstacle big enough to block its current, and it, begins to rage and foam in quite a different manner. (' 0N V L ICTIN G IX TMR Es TS,
The seizure w;ls easy enough. Jt only needed a scratch of the pen and the sending out of instructions. But even this simple business '.wis badly bungled. In defiance of Federal law, wheat which was actually :n transit from Now south Wales to Victoria- w.us seized by the police, showing graphically how easily that body may be made the. instrument of lawlessness and oppression. All that wheat has to be, returned. But the seizure .and interruption of business m each ease, give solid grounds lor action against the Government. Ministers are not much troubled, however, by tho prospect. They won't have to pay their own costs. But the farmers will. Trouble also arises from conflicting claims to the wheat seized. The Government have tho grain. I Jut to whom shall they account for it ? Poultry keepers, too" have, a, "crow to pick" with the Government, they are taking the wheat at 5* per bushel. And they have graciously intimated to them that they will soil it in lots of one bag at a time at 6s 9d a bushel—a profit" cf over 25 per cent. On a. commodity like wheat, even the •• fat man" would boggle at asking so exorbitant a price. Troubles galore are looming up—troubles in the State, and troubles outside the State. Man is said to be born to trouble, as the sparks fly upward. But not every man courts' such a crop of them as this "commandeering" business threatens to produce.
"AHisOI-UTELY I'TIKM." What is most grieving genuine and conscientious F, doralists V the uttt r contempt that is being shown for both the letter and -.pint of the Constitution, which specific-j that trade between the States is to bo '-absolutely free." Tho object) of all this violent intorfcroiicc with the lnoeriy of the subject is to pre \'K?nt, wheat grown in this .-state jgo/ug U> other State-, although much of" it has already been purchased by millers and others in tho.se States. It is the more indefensible because the Inderal Covernnient have. already taken steps to conserve the >cnnv/ wheat crop of tho Commonwealth by prohibiting the export of grain, except by special permission. If the men wh0,.,/ chief dutv is to respect and enforce the provisions" 0 f the Constitution can thus ignore them, what guarantee is there for the seeuritv of anv other interests? One would nattirallv look to the Federal Covoniment for redress in a ease of this kind. Hut so far thev have been apparently indifferent. If anv of the men who are obnoxious to theni had laid themselves open in such a manner, how promptly and how drastically thev would have dealt with them! As" things j .-tand at present, one n iay expect that j among the next Constitutional amend- | ments submitted to the jK<ople will be one j for the deletion of the mandate that trad,, between the States shall be "absolutely free." A FODDER FAMINE. It i.s disquieting to learn that agricultural produce of all kinds is as twarie as wheat. Hay and ihatT are. in very short j .-i.'pply, and famine price-) are. cxpeUed to j rule before the next crop is available. I'sually, under such em um->tancc.s, A us- ! tralia can <ha\v upon Xew Zealand ; hut,' advices state that the Dominion, in thit> ; respect, h.i t ; never been so badly off mi; I she is at present in the last 20 years. One reflects, without any sense of consolation, that the industry which is jvna-lii-ed dwindles, and that which is encouraged j thrives at, ito expense. All kinds of | .schemes for starting and encouraging in- j fluftries of a more or less unnecessary and exotic charai ter are current and tiud favor. Hut the pr. ducti. u of the bare | necessaries of life has been allowed to dwindle, till we ianv find ourselves face to I face with serious disaster. The eitie.- arc : overgrown, but the country Ls not pro- ■, discing stiflieJent. to feed the people and the live stock. Financial difficulties will be ' accentuated by the necessity of importing foodstuffs from other countries. Oiuoj more it js going to be rubbed into us that i most of our trouble- are self-courted. j A COOD EXAMPLE.
Tho Stato teaclicrs, at t'neir association j : meeting yesterday. .-i't an excellent example to some other organisations which seem to be ahvays " <;n tho make.'' In ; view of the m the public linancL's, they unaniiuouely agreed to sti.-- > perul any Tequestfi or proposals that they ; might have had in contemplation tor in- j creases of salaries until a more opportune j occasion. It was a resolution worthy oi j tho occasion and of the circumstances | On the other hand. Mr Carmiclnie! (the .Minister of Education) Mid that the j Superannuation Bill, which has been be- , fore Parliament for fcinne time, will he plaeed on the Ptatuto Book during the j current session of Parliament, if jiosfible. • A SUGGESTIVE REMARK. ! A very suggestive remark is attributed to Judge Edmunds, the chairman of the >'ea-<aary Commodities Commi>.-.ion. He , is said to have expressed regret that he should he called upon to decide, such cases as tliDaf which come before the Commission. It may >,u'ely be slid that His . Honor's regret is not greater than the ntr- . of thiiddng people that competent' jurists should accept positions of such a ! character. Take the price of spirits, for i instance. Py refusing to authorise an ad- ; vance in price commensurate with tho in- ; creaje in tho tariff the Commission are iti i dieting great hardship on small traders, I who, a-s thev hold no large stocks, have ; had to pay the increased duty, yet are de- j barred from reenveiinn; it from their ens- : tomer*. The alternative would be to al- : low the trade custom to take its course— • namely, to raise pricos as soon as increased | duties become payable. But the doctri- I naires on the Commission maintain that : this would victimise the consumer. Even j ro, it would only be for a very short time, i and the jurists have a maxim that there are some matters which must not be " weighed in golden scales." The Conimis- . sion now find themselves "up against" the usual course of the trade for no adequate public benefit. j AN INVIDTOI'S PRIVILEGE : QUASHED. Unanimously the High Court has de- ; cided that tin privilege of exemption from the stamp duty of the State, claimed by the Commonwealth Bank, cannot be allowed. Cheques on the Commonwealth ; Bank will now have to be stamped in the same manner as cheques on other banks. It would have been gracious—not to say j prudent—on tho part of tho Government ; institution to abstain from pressing so invidious and untenable a claim. iNot even their Honors Isaacs, Duffy, and Powers j could resist the conclusion that the dect- ; sion of the Queensland Court, upholding the State duty, should itself be upheld. Public opinion, however, in this, as in io many other instances, seems to be treated by the party in power as a negligible quantity. j
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OUR SYDNEY LETTER, Evening Star, Issue 15689, 31 December 1914